Singledom VS Coupledom

Singledom VS Coupledom

A close friend of mine in a long-term relationship has struggled over the years. The downs have been cataclysmic but then the highs have been soul-defining, she vulnerably expressed to me, openly sharing her emotions. Something I always admired about her and took pleasure in witnessing her bravery. How she naturally exposed herself, never worrying what others thought. Holding her head high and being proud to be her. A wonderful place to be; it definitely rubs off.

Having known each other since childhood, she spoke to me recently about her latest reflection. ‘You’ve known me the longest out of all my friends and most of my family, who only really give a shit about themselves, and have been witness to my failings whenever I’m in a relationship.’

‘I wouldn’t call them failings…’

‘You’re just being kind…’ She laughed and carried on with her musings. ‘So, I’ve been reflecting long and hard since in and out of lockdown as you know. But now I’m deeply questioning if being part of a couple is right for me.’

‘Okay,’ I responded, surprised. ‘I thought you loved being in a relationship?’

‘I definitely enjoy the newness of one. Which I think has lasted a lot longer in this one than the previous ones. And since facing things head-on, I’ve concluded that I’m not my best when in a relationship. I’m not sure I am capable or want to compromise as much as I ought to.’

‘Have you heard of “Price of Admission” coined by Dan Savage?’

Desiree said she hadn’t. We went into detail about some of the most important relationship advice, after “Sail your own boat”, of course, one can ever hope to come across.

“You can’t have a long-term relationship with someone unless you’re willing to identify the prices of admission you’re willing to pay — and the ones you’re not. But the ones you’re not — the list of things you’re not willing to put up with — you really have to be able to count [them] on one hand…”

‘Hey, you’ve got to write a blog post about this one, make more people aware of it,’ she concluded at the end of our discussion.

I thanked her for the great idea and returned to her dilemma. ‘It’s only after a certain time when you are in a relationship that you seem to lose your vibrancy. Perhaps this is what you need to understand for yourself.’

‘I came across the perfect saying the other day by Paulo Coelho: “When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” Perhaps I choose the same type of relationships for a reason, the feelings of loss, losing myself, that creep up on me after a certain time because it’s easier. It’s easier to walk away, rather than facing up to some hard facts and changing myself. I don’t blame anyone else. It’s never the man’s doing or undoing…’

‘A bloody well done for being accountable for your life. Most people struggle with this and end up blaming others for their failures and still wonder why their life’s off track. Oh poor me! I’m life’s little victim! Also, many people stay in relationships despite being unhappy because they don’t feel they deserve better, and many other reasons… Only you know yourself and what’s best for you. You’re brave as fuck! Always have been… Celebrate that! Most women would kill to be able to live true to themselves. And walk away from a dysfunctional relationship. Or one that’s no longer going anywhere…’

‘You’re definitely my number one fan!’ She leaned over the coffee table and squeezed my arm. ‘I’ve done a lot of research into why people choose to be single and how one-size doesn’t fit all. One of the main reasons is being in control over their own schedules. Not having to explain to a partner what they want to do, where they want to go, staying out longer than anticipated and if they want time to themselves, they don’t get to feel guilty about it. I can’t stand having to do something for Larry because it makes him happy but me miserable. I’m seen as selfish for not meeting his needs. I’d never want him to do something for me that he would never want to do, that didn’t make him happy. I never want to be someone’s obligation. It just about kills Larry and me each time…’

‘I also don’t understand this about being in a relationship. I struggle with meeting someone else’s obligations. I’m quite happy for them to go ahead without me, but it’s never on good terms. They take it as a rejection. I think it’s healthy to spend time apart and fulfil our obligations alone, respectively.’

Desiree shrieked in agreement. ‘Maybe I’ll explore a lesbian affair. Women seem to get it so much more than men do!’

‘Ha! Whatever “blows your hair back,” as Pops used to say.’ I couldn’t believe I’d quoted words that used to annoy me. ‘Maybe it’s just that you haven’t found the one worthy of compromise yet.’

‘I don’t think I have the energy left to keep searching… The search is over. I choose Me!’ She giggled, her I-may-be-joking-giggle.

‘You’re only middle age!’

‘God! That sounds old.’

‘No, you have at least double your age to understand yourself, improve and reach your potential.’

‘Damn! Are you saying I haven’t reached my potential yet?’ She said with mock horror. ‘Where’s that glass of wine.’ She got up and headed to the kitchen. She didn’t bother offering me a tipple but instead topped up my glass with pomegranate juice.

After her second glass of wine, her words flowed and her movements became more animated at the thought of choosing singledom over coupledom…

3 Replies to “Singledom VS Coupledom”

  1. Dear Cressida,

    You hit me amidships with your latest post, what a tortuous tangle your friend, Desiree, is in! I am happy to know you have such a good long-term friend that you admire and actually listen to for once. It is one of the good things about getting old, you can’t have old friends unless you are older too.

    So you admire her bravery, do you admire yours? I know that you are braver than a honey badger (and fearless as fuck) so you should. Someone who does not care what others think about themselves may be happy with being respected and admired rather than liked. I do agree with that although when holding your own head up with pride it can be a lonely place.
    I too, during lockdown, felt both lonely and also happy at times, it took a positive mental attitude to make to most the unprecedented circumstances. Maybe we have all been reflecting too much and over-analysing … or perhaps we have not? Can anyone over analyse the subject of over-analysing?

    It is better to single than in a relationship that is not good, where there is unbalanced compromise but it takes guts to give up on the best parts whatever those may be. It usually revolves around financial independence, love and affection. I love hugs and kisses but only when it means something. Does Desiree choose love, lust or loneliness? I miss making a smoothie for my lover, the warmth of her touch, the light in her eyes that says so much. If these become routine and formulaic then has the rot set in, are the slight tremors building to become a cauldron of ‘what ifs’ which become ‘when will I?’

    We should fall in love with someone as they are and not try to change them in to something they are either not or do not want to be. To love unconditionally and grow together would be bliss, don’t you agree, Cressida. Feed and water a flower and watch it grow rather than just cut it and take it home.

    Admission prices are surely the list of compromises. Values are conditions you accept if you are willing to enter. Maybe Desiree has been accepting season tickets rather than life time membership? Never borrow a season ticket!

    “When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision,” Paulo Coelho.
    I love this…and agree with the quotation unless it is an unwitting mistake or you are certifiably insane.

    Can anyone really live their life without wondering where their partner is, why they are late or have not been in touch? Maybe my French friend Jean-Claude can as he has so many partners and some at the same time. Aah, the French, they are a special breed. I have always thought that insecurity or a lack of trust in a relationship was the cause of such feelings but maybe jealousy or reducing self-esteem are at the root of this.

    I am glad your Desiree’s movements became more animated with her second glass of wine, better than constipated; you must be relieved too.

    As usual, dear Cressida, when you have a stimulating subject to debate, you can wake me from my slumbers.

    Time for my nap now, Cressida, my eyelids feel as heavy as manhole covers.


    1. Dear Simon,

      Thank you for your response.

      There are many reasons I am friends with someone, many qualities I admire in friends that make the relationship thrive and last a lifetime. Most of them are having things in common, especially values. So, one of them that Desiree and I do have in common is bravery; however, at times we may take on bravery in different guises. Thank you for having noticed that I am “braver than a honey badger (and fearless as fuck)…”

      When it comes to being respected and admired, rather than liked, it doesn’t always show that way… Some act out in jealousy and may never admit it. I do admire those that are honest and can face up to their fallibility, which creates even further admiration. Many years ago, I moved in with my best friend’s friend. She and I lived together. The closer she tried to get to me, the more she changed. She was a few years older than me. I tried, but couldn’t quite figure it out. Sometimes her actions didn’t quite match her words and vice versa. When I asked her about it, she said, she was going through a tough time, it was never me. I met a man and after a while of dating moved in with him. She and I grew apart. I moved on. A few years later, she apologised and admitted that she was always so jealous of my life and felt everything simply fell into my lap… She was getting married and was in a better place, realising how she hurt me by not being honest or being happy for me. I thought that took guts. Well done, J! I instantly forgave her and felt intense empathy for her. What else had debilitated her… And I wish her every inch of happiness she’s able to handle.

      I am sorry to hear that you felt lonely in lockdown. For me, it’s about embracing every moment, each experience and changing what can be changed, and, of course, accepting what cannot. What did Jonny Ox once say, “Sometimes you just have to stick your head into the storm and drink up all the rain.” How delicious. Bring me a storm any day!

      I don’t believe people analyse or reflect enough. They do their best to distract themselves with work, life, friends, experiences, belongings, money, recreational drugs etc. instead of facing up to how their choices have shaped them and others. So, lockdown may have forced some to look at themselves… Or perhaps not… Who the hell knows what goes on in the private lives of others. Frankly, I couldn’t give a damn… Unless, someone wants me to know and they mean something to me…

      I am all for having the guts to do… Yes, it may take guts to walk away from a relationship because of the good times, but if there are more times when you don’t feel good then there is no other choice for me…

      Desiree chooses herself. She’s never been able to stay in a relationship simply to please the man. When this happens she turns against herself. It’s not fair to either.

      Anything special to you, like making a smoothie for your lover, that eventually becomes routine and turns to rot, isn’t that because you allowed it to? Get her to make the smoothie for a change or stop making smoothies, maybe you should try something other than orange… and make something else. Make it together, eat the fruit off each other’s bodies… Once again it comes to choice and attitude. Make it and choose it…

      If you try and change someone, soon resentment will set in and then it’s a sure path to the end… A matter of time!

      Oooh, the French and their free love! If you haven’t dealt with you insecurities, wherever they may stem from – past relationships, family, growing up, a deformity, psychological or physical abuse – they need to be dealt with before one can expect to thrive in an intimate relationship, no matter who you are with. Unless you can fake it and mask it and feel good about living a lie…

      Happy to know I woke you from your slumbers, Simon! Try to be awake more often than asleep and always use that good eye…

      Take care,

  2. Dear Cressida,

    What a great reply, I am very impressed, Cressida, and thank you for taking the time to write so much. Not only have you replied in detail to many of the comments I have made, but you have also stimulated more.

    I am slightly peeved that you have suggested I only make orange juice smoothies, it implies I lack a spirit of adventure, only today I made one with mandarins.

    As to eating fruit of each other’s bodies, that is something I indulge in with a chocolate fondue and ice to hand.

    I look forward to your next post, thank you again for such stimulating and entertaining reply. Keep it up, Cressida !


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